Tussle Over Trump Tax Returns Prompts States to Act

Daily Tax Report: State provides authoritative coverage of state and local tax developments across the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, tracking legislative and regulatory updates,...

By Jennifer McLoughlin

President Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential campaign has unleashed a wave of state measures that would compel the disclosure of tax documents as a prerequisite for future candidates.

Lawmakers in 23 states have introduced at least 40 bills requiring the disclosure of tax documents from presidential candidates—and, in some measures, candidates for vice president. Democrats are primarily behind the measures.

While the terms vary among the bills, the measures generally provide that candidates won’t qualify for the ballot or electors can’t vote for candidates unless they release tax returns dating back a specified period of time.

Trump’s snub of the long-standing tradition among presidential candidates to release returns irked many who viewed it as a tactic to avoid transparency—rather than a legitimate privacy concern from an ongoing IRS audit, which was the then-presidential candidate’s reason for not disclosing them.

However, the states’ solution may not survive constitutional muster.

Below is a Bloomberg BNA chart outlining legislation introduced in states.

Prospects of Proposals

The New Jersey Legislature became the first to advance a proposal ( A. 4520/ S. 3048) to its governor—Chris Christie (R), a Trump ally, isn’t expected to give his stamp of approval. Both chambers in Hawaii, former President Barack Obama’s birth state, have passed their respective bills.

Congress is also considering comparable legislation. S.26 and H.R. 305 both are sitting in committee.

Constitutional Constraints

The U.S. Supreme Court has already sided against states attempting to add qualifications for membership in Congress that aren’t enumerated in the Constitution. And some anticipate the high court’s reasoning would invalidate states’ efforts to compel tax return disclosure.

The 1995 decision in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton struck an amendment to the Arkansas State Constitution that would prohibit congressional candidates from appearing on the general election ballot if that individual had already served three terms in the House of Representatives or two terms in the Senate.

“Allowing individual States to adopt their own qualifications for congressional service would be inconsistent with the Framers’ vision of a uniform National Legislature representing the people of the United States,” according to the opinion. “If the qualifications set forth in the text of the Constitution are to be changed, that text must be amended.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer McLoughlin in Washington at jmcloughlin@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan C. Tuck at rtuck@bna.com

State Original Chamber Moved to Second Chamber? Bill Key Sponsor(s)/Party Last Action Key Terms Time Frame (Years) Governor (Party)
Arizona Senate 1500 Sen. Juan Mendez (D) Second Read (2/2), Referred to Committees (2/1) President, Federal & State Returns 5 DougDucey (R)
Arizona House 2456 Rep. Athena Salman (D) Second Read (2/8), Referred to Committees (2/7) President, Federal & State Returns 5 DougDucey (R)
California Senate 149 Senators Mike McGuire (D), Scott Wiener (D) Scheduled Committee Hearing (3/28) Primary, President, "Income Tax Returns" 5 Jerry Brown (D)
Connecticut House 6574 Rep. Michael D'Agostino (D) Referred to Committee (1/24) President, Federal & State Returns 5 DanMalloy (D)
Connecticut House 6575 Government Administration & Elections Committee Referred to Joint Committee (3/24) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 3 Dan Malloy (D)
Georgia Senate 255 Sen. Horacena Tate (D) Referred to Committee (2/27) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Nathan Deal (R)
Hawaii House Yes 1581 Rep. Chris Lee (D) Passed House (3/7), Referred to Senate Committee (3/9) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 David Ige (D)
Hawaii Senate Yes 150 Sen. Karl Rhoads (D) Passed Senate (3/7), Referred to House Committee (3/9) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 1 (most recent taxable yr.) David Ige (D)
Illinois Senate 762 Sen. Omar Aquino (D) Re-referred to Committee (3/17) President, Federal Returns 5 Bruce Rauner (R)
Illinois House 780 Rep. Jaime M. Andrade, Jr. (D) Referred to Sub-Committee (3/6) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Bruce Rauner (R)
Illinois Senate 982 Sen. Daniel Bliss (D) Scheduled Second Reading (3/28) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Bruce Rauner (R)
Iowa Senate 159 Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D) Referred to Sub-Committee (1/31) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Terry Branstad (R)
Kansas House 2303 House Elections Committee [Chair Keith Esau (R)] Referred to Committee (2/7) President, Federal Returns 3 Sam Brownback (R)
Kentucky Senate 253 Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D) Referred to Committee (2/21) Primary & General, President, Federal Returns 3 Matt Bevin (R)
Maryland House 517 Delegate Jimmy Tarlau (D) Committee Hearing (2/23) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 LarryHogan (R)
Maryland Senate 358 Sen. Paul Pinsky (D) Committee Hearing (2/9) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 LarryHogan (R)
Massachusetts Senate 365 Sen. Michael Barrett (D) House Concurred, Referred to Senate Committee (1/23) Primary, President, Federal Returns General, President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 3, 5 Charlie Baker (R)
Michigan Senate 216 Sen. Steven Bieda (D) Referred to Committee (3/7) President & Vice-President, Federal & State Returns 5 RickSnyder (R)
Minnesota House 634 Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL) Referred to Committee (1/30) Primary, President, Federal & State ReturnsGeneral, President & Vice-President, Federal & State Returns 1 (most recently completed)1 (most recently completed) MarkDayton (D)
Minnesota House 704 Rep. Pat Garofalo (R) Referred to Committee (2/1) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 MarkDayton (D)
Minnesota Senate 358 Sen. Dan Schoen (DFL) Referred to Committee (1/26) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 MarkDayton (D)
Minnesota Senate 759 Sen. Carolyn Laine (DFL) Referred to Committee (2/9) Primary, President, Federal & State ReturnsGeneral, President & Vice-President, Federal & State Returns 1 (most recently completed)1 (most recently completed) Mark Dayton (D)
New Jersey Assembly/Senate Yes 4520/3048 Assembly Member John F. McKeon (D)Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D) Passed Both Houses (3/13, 3/16) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Chris Christie (R)
New Mexico Senate 118 Sen. Jacob R. Candelaria (D) Passed Committee, with amendments (2/3) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Susana Martinez (R)
New York Assembly 4072 Assembly Member Patricia Fahy (D) Referred to Committee (2/1) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Andrew Cuomo (D)
New York Senate 26 Sen. Brad Hoylman (D) Referred to Committee (1/4),Notice Comm Consideration, Request (3/10) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Andrew Cuomo (D)
Ohio House 93 Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D) Referred to Committee (3/7) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 JohnKasich (R)
Oregon House 2909 Committee on Rules[Chair Jennifer Williamson (D)] Referred to Committee (2/15) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Kate Brown (D)
Oregon House 2949 Reps. Margaret Doherty (D),Alissa Keny-Guyer (D) Referred to Committee (2/20) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Kate Brown (D)
Oregon Senate 888 Sen. Ginny Burdick (D),Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D) Public Hearing Scheduled (3/27) Primary, President, Federal ReturnsGeneral, President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 1 (most recent)1 (most recent) Kate Brown (D)
Pennsylvania House 222 Rep. Tim Briggs (D) Referred to Committee (1/31) Primary & General, President, Federal Returns 5 Tom Wolf (D)
Pennsylvania Senate 247 Sen. Daylin Leach (D) Referred to Committee (1/27) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Tom Wolf (D)
Rhode Island House 5400 Rep. Teresa Ann Tanzi (D) Committee Recommended Hold, Further Study (3/21) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Gina Raimondo (D)
Rhode Island Senate 91 Sen. Gayle Goldin (D) Referred to Committee (1/19) President & Vice-President, Federal Returns 5 Gina Raimondo (D)
Tennessee House 1127 Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D) Referred to Subcommittee (2/15) Primary & General, President, "Tax Returns" 5 Bill Haslam (R)
Tennessee House 1182 Rep. Jason Powell (D) Failed Subcommittee (3/21) Primary & General, President, "Tax Returns" 5 Bill Haslam (R)
Tennessee Senate 588 Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D) Passed Second Consideration, Referred to Committee (2/9) Primary & General, President, "Tax Returns" 5 Bill Haslam (R)
Vermont House 243 Rep. Kathleen Keenan (D) Referred to Committee (2/14) Primary & General, President, Federal Returns 5 Phil Scott (R)
Vermont Senate 77 Sen. Becca Balint (D) Referred to Committee (2/9) Primary & General, President, Federal Returns 5 Phil Scott (R)
Virginia House 2444 Delegate Mark Levine (D) Left in Committee (2/8) Primary & General, President, Federal Returns 10 Terry McAuliffe (D)
Virginia Senate 1543 Sen. Jeremy McPike (D) Defeated in Committee (1/31) Primary & General, President, Federal & State Returns 5 Terry McAuliffe (D)

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